The Health Department has achieved another milestone by successfully accomplishing the target of clearing the backlog of Corneal Blindness. With this Punjab has now earned the tag of Corneal Blindness Free State.Announcing this, the Health Minister Mr. Brahm Mohindra said that the backlog of bilateral corneal blindness had been cleared in record time after taking over the reins of the state. In a press statement, the Minister has expressed satisfaction at the results of Blindness Control Program while reviewing the progress made to clear the backlog of treatable corneal blindness (Blindness because of diseases of Cornea). As per the data available with Health Department of Punjab Government, now there was no old case suffering from Bilateral Corneal Blindness in the state, he added.The Minister said that Corneal blindness contributed to about 0.90% of total blindness in India. Punjab Health Department took the initiative for “Corneal Blindness Backlog Free Punjab (CBBF)” and till date more than 1350 Keratoplasties had been performed on Corneal Blind patients. He informed that w.e.f. March 2017 to April 2018, 1119 Corneas had been procured and 735corneal Transplant Surgeries (Keratoplasties) had been performed in registered Keratoplasty Centers of Punjab.
The Minister said that it was an uphill task for the state like Punjab to get coordination from all the stakeholders to achieve this coveted tag of Corneal Blindness Free State. He said that all the stakeholders performed their duties diligently especially NGOs and social organizations.
State Nodal Officer of Blindness Control Program, Dr Areet Kaur thanked NGOs especially Rotary Eye Bank & Eye Donation Association, Hoshiarpur for doing excellent service of promoting eye donation. She further lauded Eye Surgeons in the private sectors especially Dr. Shakeen Singh from Amritsar, who did 219 free keratoplasties in 2017. The Eye Donation movement would be further strengthened in the coming months so that there is no waiting time for Corneal Blind patients, she added.Prof. of Ophthalmology, R.P. Centre, AIIMS New Delhi and co-chairperson National eye bank Dr. Radhika Tandon, who has been mentoring this programme since its inception declared that data clearly shows that there is no old bilateral blind patient awaiting keratoplasty in Punjab at present. There are only 178 patients awaiting surgery now and all these are fresh cases.She complimented the Department of Health Punjab for this achievement & said that Punjab has set a model for other states to emulate.Directions have also been issued to all the district level officials of police Department to facilitate eye donation in medico legal cases before post-mortem.